Freedom Center for Strategic Studies
- The Federal Government of Somalia and the Republic of Somaliland had an armed confrontation, several skirmishes and a military stand-off in the eastern Sool and Sanaag regions for the last 20 years. Both Somalia and Somaliland have territorial disputes which have colonial roots. Somaliland was a British Protectorate while Italy colonized Somalia.
- In the recent past, visits by the Somali Federal Government resulted in several clashes at the border where dozens died from both sides. Not long ago, a visit by a Federal Minister in Eastern Sanaag escalated tensions between the two sides which almost resulted in more clashes in the area. Both visits were perceived as an act of war by the Somaliland authorities. The International Community urged both sides to solve their differences in a peaceful manner. Somalia’s Puntland administration rejected these proposals from the International Community.
- The Freedom Center for Strategic Studies is concerned about the recent visit of Puntland’s president to Badhan in Sanaag could trigger another armed confrontation in more border areas of the region. We concur with the United Nations who previously emphasized that such fighting poses a tremendous risk which can result in tens of thousands of possible displacements at a time when humanitarian needs are already worrying the international community and available funds are limited. We also agree with the conflict research organizations such as ICG that such dispute risks creating space for radical groups like Alshabaab and Islamic State whose elements are already present in some areas of Puntland. On the other hand, we believe any new armed clashes in the area will hinder the wind of peaceful change in the Horn of Africa, could open a door to new battles and crush efforts aimed at preventing more conflicts and shifting to prosperous regional developments.
- Therefore, we believe that war is avoidable, and we urge both sides to avoid inflammatory rhetoric and provocative activities but instead resume talks to resolve the dispute via dialogue and peaceful means. For now, the UN, US, UK, and IGAD should engage with the Somali Federal Government and Puntland and encourage them to abstain from activities that can endanger the peace. In the long-run, the international community should employ a policy of shuttle diplomacy to persuade both sides to negotiate and resolve their differences on the table through the Somaliland-Somalia talks.